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    Nielsen's Nine Points Leads No. 1 Wildcats Past No. 4 Orange, 19-8

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Nielsen leads the nation in points with 64 (31 goals, 33 assists).
    Nielsen leads the nation in points with 64 (31 goals, 33 assists).

    March 22, 2009

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior Hannah Nielsen (Adelaide, Australia/Brighton Secondary) continues to establish herself as one of the top players in the country, netting seven goals and adding a pair of assists to lead top-ranked Northwestern past fourth-ranked Syracuse 19-8 at Lakeside Field. NU improves to 9-0 on the year and 6-1 all-time against the Orange, while extending its home winning streak to 47 games.

    Billed as one of the most intriguing match-ups of the regular season, Syracuse (6-2) struck first, taking a 1-0 advantage 2:07 into the first half. But a goal by senior Hilary Bowen (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) just 20 seconds later sparked the Wildcat attack, as NU would add six more goals over the next 10 minutes to break the game open at 7-1.

    The Orange, however, were not about to go down quietly, as three-straight Syracuse goals, including a pair from Megan Mosenson, cut the gap to 7-4 with 13:26 remaining. But that appeared to be close enough for head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, as her `Cats would reel off five unanswered to take a 12-4 lead into the half. Nielsen led the charge with three first half goals, while junior Danielle Spencer (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and freshman Shannon Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) each added a pair. Spencer's second goal, coming with 7:40 remaining in the half, was the 100th of her Northwestern career.

    The Wildcats picked up right where they left off in the second half, scoring four more goals in a seven-minute span to extend their lead to 12 at 16-4. Syracuse tried to mount one last comeback, closing the gap to 16-7 with 10 minutes to play, but NU closed out the contest by scoring three of the last four goals to cement the victory.

    Once again, Northwestern's defense came up huge against one of the nation's top offensive attacks. For the third straight game, it held Syracuse's Katie Rowan to no points and only one shot. Senior goalkeeper Morgan Lathrop (Briarcliff, N.Y./Hackley School) played one of her best games of the season, stopping 10 Orange shots, including three key saves in the opening minutes to preserve the Wildcat momentum.

    The seven goals by Nielsen is a new career-best, as with her pair of assists she ups her career total to 174, meaning she needs just five more to surpass Jen Adams as the NCAA's all-time assist leader. Nielsen moved past current assistant coach Lindsey Munday into sixth-place on the all-time Wildcat goal list with 146, and leads the team with 64 points on the year (31G, 33A).

    With the Syracuse defense clamped down on her all day, Bowen still came up big for NU, netting two goals while dishing out three assists. She now has the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history with 49 consecutive games with a goal, and both she and Nielsen extended their consecutive point streak to 53 straight contests.

    Northwestern now heads back on the road, traveling to Amherst, Mass., to face UMass at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. There will be a pair of familiar faces on the Minutewomen sideline, as they are coached by former NU assistants Alexis Venechanos and Acacia Walker. The Wildcats then get some time off before returning to Lakeside Field to host fifth-ranked Duke on Friday, April 3.